Producer Germaine ‘Blaqk Sheep’ Clarke had long ditched reggae in favour of dancehall, where he was convinced he had happily found his niche, turning out fast-moving projects which brought ultimate satisfaction. He earned his stripes for producing hit singles like Ride It by RDX, Da Style Deh by Busy Signal; making the beats for Spice’s hit Indicator and RDX’s chart topper LOL and producing a critically acclaimed album titled 90 Degrees of Dancehall Volume 3, among other projects.
But with the advent of the coronavirus pandemic came what can be considered the truth. Blaqk Sheep, acknowledging that COVID-19 had ushered in an entirely different vibration and that people didn’t necessarily want to hear the ‘boop boop’ sounds of dancehall, pulled out a reggae project that had been gathering dust.
“These are uncertain times with people losing their livelihoods and I asked myself, ‘What type of music would I want to hear?’ Plus, I didn’t want to do a six-week project, I wanted something that would endure,” he told The Gleaner. What evolved out of the recording sessions was a ‘riddim’ titled Truthful, with artistes including Qraig Voicemail, Mr Vegas, RDX, Anthony B, Turbulence, Saine, DBurnz, Benaissa, Ibo Fyah, Lexikon, Av&nte, Kenyan artiste Cathy Matete, and Julian Marley.
Blaqk Sheep recalled that while in studio, somehow all the artistes were singing songs from personal experience and he encouraged them to simply let out the truth, and the ‘riddim’ was christened. “And then there is a line in RDX’s song which says ‘whe yuh want hear, truth or lie, ‘cause mi want get it right’. So the name was just perfect,” he said.
Already, one of the songs is getting much more attention than he had anticipated, and for this Blaqk Sheep is filled with a mixture of gratitude and wonder, because it was the one song that almost never was. Pages, recorded by Julian ‘Ju Ju’ Marley is being featured on the Marley brothers upcoming album Set Up Shop Vol. 4. “I went to check Julian and we spoke about the song. He asked if I had the riddim and I took out my laptop and he said plug it in. But guess what, the laptop wouldn’t work. So, I updated it and was ready again, but this time the sound card nah work. At this point I was ready to give up, and then Julian seh to give him a few. The man go upstairs for a while and come back down and ask how far the studio deh. We went to the studio and recorded Pages. The following day we did the video. That was exactly two weeks before the world shut down,” he said.
The song, he said, went through a process, as Julian had to leave Jamaica before the borders closed, so they were doing the final touches back and forth online. Then he got a call from Julian recently saying that his brother Damian ‘Jr Gong’ had been listening to the song and liked it. Julian also told him that Damian wanted it for a project, and naturally, there was no way any producer would turn down such a request. “I told Julian all he needed to do was tell me, not ask. There are a lot of producers in the industry, and to know that I got an opportunity many wish to have is something I have to be thankful for,” the talented producer said.
Blaqk Sheep shared that his experience working with Julian Marley was so great, that he was one of the first persons he checked in with at the studio when he visited Florida.
The Truthful rhythm is currently available on all digital platforms.